Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

“Mom, is that true?”

My son shared an article on Facebook about vaccines causing autism and asked me, “Mom, is that true?” My son finds the written word to be the easiest form of communication, because a language processing disorder makes auditory conversation difficult. My son easily makes his thoughts and wishes known through the computer keyboard and phone texting.
My son has autism.
We often banter back and forth via social media and what begins on a forum typically continues in the car or kitchen, where we spend most of our time together. I’ve noticed that he is more comfortable starting difficult dialogues with the written word. After he’s had time to digest in that manner, then he begins speaking aloud what has been rattling around in his head. It is WAAAAAY easier for me, too. We’ve come a long way from the day he yelled at me during one verbal discourse, “Mom! Too many words!!” We measure, weigh and distribute language differently than your average, neurologically typical bears – and it works for us. We also find that doing so leads to deeper, more interesting conversation and that’s pretty incredible for any two people, much less parent and child.
Over the years, I’ve done considerable research about autism. Mostly, because when my son was diagnosed back-in-the-day by the lovely developmental pediatric division of UCLA, they gave me no map or definitive plan of attack. There were so many theories about what might work, that they were not gung ho about offering suggestions. I was told that there were some pamphlets available on my way out to help me make decisions about what to do next.
What I did next was read until my eyes bled. On-line, libraries, autism support centers, conventions, fairs… you name it, I read it. I read it and weighed our options. Our options ranged from diets, to therapies to a whole lot of snake oil. Emotions ran high and a lot of the material I came across was angry, with a lot of finger pointing about what people thought caused autism. Answers were hard to come by, but accusations were everywhere. Vaccines, in particular seemed to get the most nasty press.
Having been raised in a chaotic household where abuse of every flavor was on the menu daily (alcohol, drugs, physical, sexual and emotional) – I could have grown up with a victim’s mentality. I did not. Because of my own mental wiring, I also refused to let my son – or anyone in my circle – view his autism through the eyes of a victim. This was not something that was “done” to my son. This was something he was born with. He was different from other babies, from the very beginning. There was no shocking change in his behavior after his vaccines. His entire developmental arc, from birth, was unlike his sister’s or any of the thousands of children I’d come to know in my community.
Continuing to read endless articles, not just about autism, but science, neurology and technology – I wrote an article 15 years ago that stated my opinion about what autism was and what it would continue to be. It was an opinion that did not make me terribly popular among other parents of children with autism. It was and is an opinion that I’ve continued to espouse and speak about in my household, to everyone in my circle and even complete strangers… when asked. It is this same opinion I gave to my son on Facebook when he asked about vaccines causing autism, “Mom, is this true?” Here’s what I told him:
Your mother believes autism… is evolution. It is not a disability, but a way for New brains to function differently. We have created a world with an array of devices that allow us to function without human interaction, forever changing how we live and do business. We do our banking, shopping, socializing and even medical care now, through computers and apps. YOU, my beautifully differently-abled boy, will thrive in a universe with A.I. (artificial intelligence) and I, will struggle. In 20-30 years I will have difficulty with my communication and coping skills and you… will be a champion. No, vaccines are NOT to “blame” for autism. Shame on the small-minded people who believe that to be true and who continue to wave that tattered flag of foolishness.
I no longer care if people like my opinion about autism. As a parent, my job was (and is) to make sure my children grew up to be strong, kind, responsible members of society. I have worked incredibly hard over the last few decades to do that very thing. To accomplish that goal, to the best of my ability, I have made sure to keep the lines of communication with my children as strong as possible. Thank goodness for keyboards and opposable thumbs, as we move forward into the future.
xo – t.
“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.” – Scott Hamilton
“Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul. And sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson
“If you knew that hope and despair were paths to the same destination, which would you choose?” – Robert Brault
Please forgive any typos or wacky syntax. The editor and proofreader in my brain aren’t paid well.